Spring is around the corner and that means more family trips to the community playground. Playgrounds have special maintenance requirements due to the use and abuse by children and winter rains. Plus, without proper care and maintenance tot lots can pose an extra degree of hazard to children with dangers posed by splinters, outdated or broken equipment, inadequate playground surface compaction and faulty fasteners.
California state regulations require a Certified Playground Safety Inspector to inspect and conduct a safety audit of all playgrounds. Then, the owners are required to implement changes in the design, installation, inspection, maintenance and supervision of its playgrounds that are identified by the Inspector as necessary to comply with the requirements. ProTec’s Maintenance Division Manager and Construction Division Manager recently attended a Tot-Lot Training and Certification week to become National Playground Safety Institute Certified Playground Safety Inspectors.
ProTec’s inspectors will examine and complete specific maintenance specifications for playgrounds:
- Is the area around the equipment free and clear from all objects and materials that could injure participants. Visual area checks around the play equipment for objects and materials that could potentially cause injury should be conducted at least three (3) times weekly in summer and one time (1) per week in the winter.
- Inspection of the equipment for stability and exposed footings and tightened bolts and nuts. Inspections should be conducted monthly and fasteners should be tightened every two (2) months or as needed.
- Inspection of all equipment for rust and touch-up paint every six (6) months or as necessary.
- Wiping down of all equipment with warm water and a soap solution once per week or as needed.
- Ensuring that all matting materials are free of dirt and debris.
- Inspect surface compaction.
In addition to the danger of accidents there is also the issue of cleanliness. Many playgrounds pose a challenge when it comes to being able to keep them properly cleaned. One issue that is particularly challenging is that of cat’s mistaking the sand at tot lots for their kitty litter box. ProTec’s custodial team performs monthly cleaning programs for playgrounds that help meet the strict regulations.
Regulations also include that anyone who installs playground equipment must have the equipment installed under the direct supervision of the manufacturer or a Certified Playground Safety Inspector. In addition, you should also have regularly scheduled safety inspection.
If you have any questions you can contact the following organizations:
- California Park and Recreation Society: 916-665-2777
- Consumer Product Safety Commission’s Handbook for Public Playground Safety (a copy of the handbook can be obtained at http://www.dhs.ca.gov/epic/
- American Society for Testing and Material’s (ASTM) “Performance Specification for Playground Equipment for Public Use: 610-832-9585.
- California Park & Recreation Society (contact Leslie Fritz, director of education at firstname.lastname@example.org): 916-665-2777 or http://www.cprs.org
- State of California: http://www.ccr.oal.ca.gov
Contact ProTec for a Playground Inspection, Maintenance Program or Cleaning Services quote. www.GoProTec.com